A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Holly Star is a 2018 holiday-themed romantic comedy in which a down-on-her-luck puppeteer returns to her hometown for the holidays and gets caught up in a treasure hunt. Expect a fair amount of drinking throughout, including scenes in which characters drink in bars then stumble home, a grandmother who drinks from a flask, and a Santa puppet who drinks from a flask and falls over while slurring his speech. Cigar smoking. Some mild profanity throughout ("t-t," "son of a bitch," "damn"). A woman, in the hopes of scaring her friend into remembering more about the buried treasure, dresses like a robber and wields a firearm that's shortly after revealed to be a paintball gun. Kissing.
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What's the story?
In HOLLY STAR, Sloan is trying to make it as a puppeteer in New York City, but loses her job working for an advertising agency mere days before Christmas. Broke and depressed, she returns to her Maine hometown. Despite her parents being on a cruise, Sloan reconnects with her free-spirited grandmother, her best friend Kay K., an over-exuberant security guard and paintball enthusiast, and Andy Skillin, a guy she went to high school with who now works at the local Christmas tree lot. As she revisits her old friends and hometown, Sloan starts having a recurring vision concerning her late grandfather and hidden money. While the vision remains vague, it tends to reemerge and become clearer whenever Sloan is frightened. Meanwhile, in order to bring in some money to pay off her car getting towed, Sloan starts working with Skillin at the Christmas tree lot, rekindling a high school attraction that never quite went away. With the help of the ever-vigilant Kay K., Sloan tries to fill in the missing pieces of this vision of the missing money, even as she begins to question her priorities and what truly matters during the holidays and in life.
Is it any good?
While this has some talented acting and dry humor to prevent it from being as saccharine as other holiday romcoms, it never quite goes beyond the limitations of both genres. There just isn't enough there to go beyond stories and characters we've seen so many times before. There's the lead character, home for the holidays in her rural small town after struggling and failing to find success in "the big city." There's her best friend, who at best is a stock "weird" character and at worst comes off like an unfunny creation from a failing improv troupe. We have the grandmother who prefers drinking from a flask and dancing the tango over Bingo. And, finally, the nice guy who stayed in town after college and sees the good in the little town that the harried urbanite lead character might have forgotten about.
Holly Star is the kind of movie that tries to break the mold of the genres it works with while being completely constrained by them. As a romcom and holiday fare, it's easy enough to suss out the overall themes, even with curve balls like treasure hunts thrown into the mix. While it does its best to avoid the kind of sentimentality that is the Hallmark Channel's stock in trade, it never really escapes the tropes and cliches of other "home for the holidays" movies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about romantic comedies. How does this compare to other romantic comedies you've seen?
How does Holly Star compare to other Christmas movies you've seen? Why do so many holiday movies have a romantic element?
How are the elderly shown in the movie? How are the elderly are often portrayed in movies and TV shows?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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